Friday, April 5, 2013

A Surgical Story - Reader's Digest Version

Funny story: I typed up an entire [long] entry on my surgery and when I tried to paste a URL I wound up deleting, then saving, my work, so that I saved a blank page and all of my previous work was deleted. I told you I could be technology-challenged. After that "D'OH" moment, I took a lunch break to regroup and eat Chipotle. I think I'm ready to try again. Here's hoping I don't delete this, too...

I have been an athlete and soccer player my whole life, but never liked running - because, let's face it, running is boring. Despite this, I decided my 2012 New Year's Resolution would be to run a half marathon, so in January I started training for the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon in April. After I did the first long training run, I was hooked. (I had been warned, but did not listen.) After my race I still maintained my long run schedule, waking up at 6:30 every Saturday to spend some time with my mind and my music. I then signed up for the Parks Half Marathon that September. Late August, I started to experience mild hip pain while doing my long runs, which progressed to pain during all runs, which progressed to pain while walking. I ran the race anyway, and actually improved my previous time by 14 minutes and finished in 2 hours. My hip starting hurting at mile 2, and I decided that since it was going to hurt anyway, I might as well pick up the pace.

Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon, April 2012
 After the race I took it easy for a while, but every time I tried to run the pain returned. In October, I finally went to the doctor, and she thought I might have a labral tear or some kind of sprain in my hip. She advised taking more time off of running and doing physical therapy to heal that area. I did two months of therapy and actually managed to work running back into my exercise routine, in segments of about 20 minutes with no pain. Unfortunately, it didn't last and the pain returned.

I went back to the doctor and had an MRI done, which I was told showed that the labrum (cartilage surrounding the hip) looked intact, so then I had a cortisone injection in hopes that that would relieve the pain. (Cortisone injections use really big needles, by the way). No luck on that front, and the doctor finally decided it was time to send me over to the hip surgeon.

Finishing Parks Half Marathon, September 2012
A long story and another four weeks of physical therapy later, I was in the operating room at the hospital for arthroscopic hip surgery. Arthroscopic surgery means that instead of opening up my whole hip, the surgeon made a couple of small incisions through which he threaded the camera and tools to make the pairs. I had at least four tears repaired, and he filed back the bone that had grown abnormally, causing the tear in the first place [along with a bunch of other medical terminology related to impingement and cartilage that I still don't understand. I think there was something about FAI?]

Turns out it was a blessing in disguise (and I'm talking really really good disguise. Like, spy-worthy), because he found that my hip was much much worse than he would expect for a person my age. In fact, if I hadn't had the surgery, I would have had to have a hip replacement by the age of thirty. Yep, you read that right, hip replacement by 30. Luckily (?), now I should never need a replacement, at least on my left side.

My surgeon gave me a bunch of pictures of the inside of my hip/views of the bones that were taken during surgery. This one is much more pleasant. {source}

Since the incisions are smaller, recovery gets to - supposedly - be a little bit easier. The first several days were pretty unhappy, but I am now improving everyday, even though life on crutches/with pain remains quite challenging. I'll be on crutches for a total of about 2 weeks, and should be running within 3 months. Before we knew I needed surgery, my 2013 goal was to run a marathon; unfortunately, this may be out of the cards for me now, because of the extent of the damage (though I will find out for sure at my follow-up), but I'm hoping to negotiate being able to run more halves (halfs? That situation is awkward.) in the future.

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